Poems for the EARTH

 terre

Poems of a stupid monk

(Translated by the author)

 

Marc Hôgen Van der Maat

Kannon Zen Dojo Brussels

summer 2019

 

 

 

 

A little bit of rain

won’t be sufficient to repair

weeks of drought

 

A little bit of zazen

won’t be sufficient to repair

eons of ignorance

 

A generous good rainfall

will water deeply

the myriads of organisms

in a rich and living soil

 

An assiduous and generous

practice will transform deeply

this body-mind into myriads

of Dharma fireflies

 

May Buddha help

and guide me on the Path

 

 

 

Polluting microplastics, from oceanic abysses

up to (still) snowy mountain tops

 

Heavy metals and carcinogenic molecules from

the tip of the toes up to the top of my overheated shaved skull

 

But most serious remains

the toxicity of my own mind

 

 

In the middle of a heat wave

I dove in a transparent and gracefully fresh sea,

where the dolphin friend was already waiting for me

 

Right away in the big blue, the joyful party

began, letting us inhale a burning air on the surface,

and diving immediately to the deep, spiraling or

gliding in a delicious weightlessness, with

gestures of a great slowness and peace – zen - . . .

 

But suddenly a noisy bell

brought me back to my bed:

time to finish the siesta, little monk,

we are on sesshin here!

Come on, get up! Zazen!

 

A robe doesn’t make a monk

A nun isn’t a shaved head

Nor a beautifully sewn kesa

 

Important responsibilities may

or may not express an authentic

dedication to the Dharma,

whereas an exterior sweetness may

hide a hard core full of

avidity for power

 

Innumerable are the pitfalls on the Way

like weed appearing everywhere

on the public roads of our mind

 

So, let’s follow as well as we can

the precepts and the dojo’s rules

letting us being shattered like the pebbles

on the beach by the sometimes tumultuous

waves of dojo life and an always moving sangha

 

Keeping an eye on the lighthouse

of the Master

and

let’s repent at every new moon

 

In my garden there is

not one single paper,

not a single trash neither

waste loosely abandoned

somewhere in a corner

 

At my neighbour’s,

a poor widow who can’t manage

it anymore, the rubbish and plastics

build up between the rambles, bindweeds

and other thistles

 

But the blackbird joyfully

sings on both sides of the hedge

and the dew delicately rests

everywhere until sunrise

 

Brutally, ferociously, implacably

the sun burns the earth

 

In the Saharian air the scorched grass

suffocates under some rare butterflies

looking for a still open flower

 

The little birds remain silent in the hedges

and the bigger one’s found refuge under

the leaves of yet yellowed trees

 

Brutally, ferociously, implacably

like our sun baking the earth’s crust

the system burns and dries the hearts

of men, dulled by the unbreathable air

of their unbridled running

 

More numerous than the few butterflies

in search of flowers, women and men

of every age come to quench themselves

on the colored flowers of the Dharma

 

 

The sun went away and

the air became more breathable

under a beautiful decorated sky

with multiple pastel tones

 

It’s time to water some plants

under their shadowed protection

besides the others which were

dried or burned by fire beams

 

May all infected seeds and plants

by the three poisons in my body

and mind be definitively dried

and burned by the fire of the practice

stirred by the breath and

the compassion of Kannon

 

How agreeable it is

to cycle in a heat wave

under the shadow of the forest

in this beautiful cathedral of centenarian

beech trees majestically

pointed towards infinity

 

The wheels of the bicycle

whirl joyfully like the Dharma’s wheel

which every branch, every leaf

of the forest and of the underwood

murmurs near imperceptibly

 

Alas these magnificent trees

suffer of climate change and will

have to disappear of this enchanted scenery

and seek refuge more northwards, joining

these millions of anonymous transmigrants and

refugees on dangerous roads, from the exploited south

to the exploiting north, which became sick

of its stolen wealth

 

Other, more adapted trees one day

will take the place of these beautiful beings,

beech trees, offering new tastes to hinds and deer,

and new comic-acrobatic challenges to playful squirrels

 

And another monk

will turn the wheels of his bicycle

pedaling cheerfully the ‘Shigu seigan mon’

which the Dharma near imperceptibly will accompany

with the peaceful balancing of new arrived trees

and majestically pointing towards infinity …

 

 

I don’t remember having

been so grateful and physically

happy for having been able to see

the rain coming back again

 

After weeks of drought and

days of endless canicular heaths,

of sticky nights and my incapacity

towards a vegetation in great suffering

 

Rain! is falling again, abundantly,

in a marvelous regular and uninterrupted

flow on earth, the thunder booming

far away, accompanied by laughing birds

 

Dharma’s rain! since ever is falling in

an always marvelously and uninterrupted flow

since the origin of times to water the thirsty

hearts of all beings

 

Dharma’s rain and heaven’s rain

became one in the silence of the night

It’s marvelous being able to practice zazen

becoming a tree with the watered trees

 

I don’t remember having

being that grateful and

physically happy for

being the rain

 

Sanpai

 

Letting the car at the church piazza

and going down a lovely footpath

alongside a small park with a big

beautiful willow tree under a burning sun

at its zenith, there, just in front of my

pilgrim’s feet on the Way, it was lying

on the burning stones of death.

 

General anthropomorphism stigmatizes

it as an abject and dirty animal,

carrying diseases and stinking to death,

to be combatted and eliminated by all means,

and at the same time subject of

the worst atrocious experiences in

all labs around the world.

 

It is true that if we could waste less

and try to diminish our tendency of

changing our villages, neighbourhoods

and countryside into gigantic garbage

dumps poisoning all life,

if we would throw away less food and

give it to the hungry or make compost of it,

they certainly would be less striding along

our streets and sewers, our barns and gardens.

 

This rat, in front of my feet, probably deceased

of drought and heat wave, was indeed a

beautiful animal in all manners. Of a respectable

size, I noticed, perhaps for the first time, that it was

a whole being, worthy of respect, with a soft and

shiny fur, departed with a little smile behind it’s

moustaches, which the flies had already begun

to invade.

 

All phenomena teach us the Dharma, and on that

particular day it was a dead rat, anonymous and

sublime altogether in its role of teacher, whom

I greeted with gasshô nearby astonished passers-by

demanding themselves if the sun hadn’t hit too

hard my shaved skull.

 

Later that day I entered the compound of a

shop center to fill up my car when suddenly,

just in front of my wheels, another rat crossed

over the access road as to transmit me the

joyful and best all salutations of its companion

which had passed over into the

other side of the mirror . . .

 

 

 

Gracefully balancing rose tree

 

The moon perfumes a starring nightly air

 

A black robe in silence contemplates

 

The splendor of Dharma

 

 

The workers hurry on a yet

overcrowded ring road

 

In the dojo the big bell resonates

up to the far end of the universe

 

Some peaceful shadows

in front of bare walls

 

The agitated the city awakens

slowly the incense rises

 

 

There are too many words

too many hollow phrases

 

There are too much

embellished images

 

too many information

and even more disinformation

 

The poles are melting

rapidly and yet

 

the information tsunami

floods the hearts and swells human ego’s

 

Zazen transpierces it all instantly:

 

nothing left

 

 

During daylight

an exhausted hedgehog

dragged itself along on the yellowed grass

 

Too late

I realized that it was awfully thirsty

while I had been drinking at pleasure

 

In the evening,

exhausted by my own ignorance

I looked at the water bowl near the bush

 

 

Zazen

early morning

 

A slender rain

on the glass panes

 

The breeze whispers

the Four Vows

 

Zazen

in early morning . . .

 

 

The altar

tired flowers

delicately draw

impermanence on

the virgin page of

a new day

 

Their decrepitude

is turning the wheel of time

In the axis of here and now

the picture of time

is dissolving with the incense

 

And all the libraries of the world

with their innumerable books

and their too many over filled pages

disappear in the black hole

of the instant

 

Day after day

his footsteps

have slowed down

for harmonizing

little by little

with the rhythm of

Universal life

humming in each

individual breath

of this body-mind

the melody of that

which is and being

perpetually rejuvenated

 

With or without wind

in a gentle breeze or

in stormy seas he freely

surfs on the twinkling waves

of samsara

 

At night

the shouting of the neighbour lady

in the tranquility of the garden

 

In daylight

the noises of hyperactivity

in the urban rush

 

Yet the earth calmly

continues it’s stroll in

cosmic immensity

around a tiny minuscule sun

 

The flea jumps of

space agencies do not decelerate

hishiryo’s expansion of sidereal silence

in the immensity of void vacuum space

 

Simply sitting

breathing with the winds

stretching like the trees

and touching the stars

of prajnaparamita

a few brief moments

 

Permanent impregnation

of what was already there

before the appearance

of this body-mind

on this

marvelous

blue

planet

 

Gasshô

 

Busy with the summer pruning

of apple trees I felt

observed

 

It’s wings wide open

and carried by the thermal winds

turning spirals in the sun

 

A beautiful stork

controlled my work from above

helped below by the whinnying

of a beautiful horse behind the hedge

 

And as in fairy-like enchantment

a beautiful butterfly also came up

adding itself to this scene which wasn’t

a movie but simply an instant moment’s Life

 

silhouette

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